WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 1, 2022
TOPIC: TRUE REPENTANCE IS NOT JUST FEELING SORRY
BY T. O. BANSO
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8 New King James Version).
The body of Christ has been plagued with wrong teachings in the past such as emotional salvation or body-felt salvation. Some people promoted the doctrine that to receive salvation, you must pray for the forgiveness of your sins until you begin to weep! The belief was that the proof of receiving salvation was weeping for one’s sins.
When people began to weep like that in a fellowship meeting or church gathering, those leading the meeting would confirm to them that they had received salvation and they should pray more fervently. But assurance of salvation is not based on feelings but faith in the Word of God.
Some people think that repentance is when someone feels sorry for his sins or when he cries or weeps. In other words, if someone says he has repented but you don’t see him crying or weeping, he has not repented! The truth is that some people are more emotional than others. Some people easily cry even over the smallest thing. But others hardly cry. So if you don’t see them cry, you may wrongly conclude that they have not repented even when they have.
Biblical repentance or true repentance is not just feeling sorry for your sins or weeping. A truly repentant person may or may not weep. Repentance is “a turning away from sin, disobedience, or rebellion and a turning back to God” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary). Indeed, repentance involves regrets and sorrow for one’s sins, but it doesn’t end there. True repentance involves turning around and going the other direction – the direction of God to do the right thing.
You could feel sorry for your wrong behaviour or feel remorseful. You could weep or cry. But true repentance goes beyond all this. After showing remorse for your wrong behaviour and if you have cried (if you feel like crying), you must change by doing what God wants you to do. If you continue in your wrong behaviour after weeping at a fellowship meeting or in a church service, you have not truly repented.
Many people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to John the Baptist and he baptized them in the Jordan as they confessed their sins (Matthew 3:5-6). “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:7-8 New King James Version). Take note of the phrase “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.”
John the Baptist didn’t want to baptize them while they continued thereafter to live in sin as they had been living. The Bible in Basic English renders the phrase thus: “Let your change of heart be seen in your works.” The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God.”
Repentance is not being remorseful because of the consequences of your wrong action or sin. It is not motivated by a desire to escape punishment but to please God. A truly repented person agrees that he has displeased God and changes to please Him by doing the right thing. He may or may not weep. Repentance is seen in action, not in emotion. Repentance is changing your mind from sin to obey God.
When those who came to John the Baptist for baptism asked him what they should do, he answered them appropriately, He said anyone who had two tunics, should give to the person who had none and anyone who had food, should do likewise. When the tax collectors who came to be baptized asked him what they should do, he told them not to collect more than what was appointed for them. Similarly, he answered the soldiers not to intimidate anyone or accuse them falsely. He told them to be content with their wages (Luke 3:10-14). In summary, he told them to change and do the right thing.
Zacchaeus, a rich Chief tax collector described by his people as a sinner or notorious sinner after Jesus had gone with him home, showed his repentance and a change of life, by making restitution. He said, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Luke 19:8 New King James Version). Nobody preached to him; he did it voluntarily. True repentance leads to turning around and doing the right thing.
Matthew 27:3-5 says, “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (King James Version).
Take note that this passage says Judas “repented himself.” Judas’ repentance was not true repentance because he, thereafter, went to commit suicide. If he was truly repentant, he wouldn’t have gone to hang himself. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (New King James Version).
Some Bible translations do not use the word repented for Judas. For instance, the New King James Version uses the word remorseful. As I said earlier, being remorseful is not the same as being repentant. The Greek word translated repentant in the case of Judas is metamellomai, which means to regret. But the Greek word often used for repentance in the Bible is metanoia meaning “a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or something he has done.”
Feeling guilty for one’s behaviour is not repentance. The guilt should lead to a change of mind and turning to God – to do the right thing. Have you repented of your sins? Preaching in the Temple after the healing of the crippled beggar, Peter told his listeners, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19 New King James Version). Also, Paul told the people of Athens, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30 New King James Version).
True repentance is what God commands. Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself. I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Beyond showing remorse or regret or feeling sorry, I repent of my sins and turn to You. I turn from disobedience to obedience to Your Word. Father, I pray that all sinners will truly repent; they will change their minds and turn to You. They will prove by the way they live that they have really turned from their sins and turned to God.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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